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Peter's Model Railroading | The Layout | Stops | The Hazel Mine Complex | Hazel Mine Tipple
Interior Detailing

Since the tipple support structure is wide open, its interior components are plainly visible, so I have to model those. There are no clear, up-close photos of the interior parts, so some creative-license will be taken to build the parts that I need. But, first, this engineering drawing from the 1900 installation clearly shows the incoming track from the mine (the top track on the right-hand side of the diagram) being split via a turnout across two tracks. The mine cars would be emptied on either track. The next car pushes the previous car to the left-hand side where an automated spring switch "bounced" the cars back through the left-hand turnout to the bottom track, to make their journey back to the mine. This diagram clearly shows two openings in the tipple's floor through which the coal was dumped into the chutes.

Focusing on just the chutes area of the tipple, this engineering drawing shows the various chutes that feed the original five tracks of the mine. Two bays were added a few years later on the left side of the tipple, which is what I have modeled. As far as I can tell, those two additional bays were only used for local vehicular traffic, which also, presumably, use chutes to supply them with the coal. Since real-world chutes can be closed off, have built-in grates for filtering the coal, and may even have been movable (up and down, at least), this is all hard to model in our miniature scales. So, I will be building facsimiles of the chutes in one position as best I can, while still clearing the railroad equipment that must run under these chutes.

This front view of the interior shows two of the chutes. They appear to just be straight-forward U-channel guides to direct the coal to the cars parked underneath. There appear to be two handles attached to each chute to manually lower the chute when a car was parked under it. I will model mine to be in a position that they would be in when actively loading a car. The other thing I gather from the drawing is that it looks like the chutes were made out of wood.

I don't know if this is a photo or an artist's rendering, but it shows the side of the building where the chutes are. There appear to be two distinct main branches, with the front one going all the way to the last two bays. The background one appears to have a pair of very large funnels, which makes sense as the engineering drawing shows that that is where the "nut" and "slack" sized coal is supposed to go. Both the engineering drawing and this image shows a multitude of support wires and several pulleys. The pulleys were presumably used to stop the flow of coal when no rail car was under the bay.

This photo shows a ton of extra detail. I do not know the date of this photo, so there is no guarantee that this is what the interior looked like in 1924. It does appear that a portion of the support structure has a wooden floor, and it even appears to have a cabin. There are stairs leading up to the main building. This must be a later photo (1930-40s?) as it appears that there is no framing in the second-to-last bay on the left side of the photo. The facility experienced a couple of fires, so they may have made changes during the re-construction after each fire. Of course, staring at a photo such as this, there is a lifetime-worth of modeling, so at some point I have to stop myself and just capture the main essence of the building.

This photo appears to be from shortly after one such fire, as the roof is gone and there is no activity under the bays. It doesn't show the stairs on the left and the cabin near the center of the previous photo.

So, thinking through all of the things to model in the interior, and which ones to do before others, and especially before I permanently mount the main building on top of the support structure, I decided to tackle the walkway. I have no photographic evidence that this walkway, which was on the second floor of the building on the right-hand side, stretched all the way from the front to the back of the building. It, clearly, was there in some of the photos, so I took the creative license to model it in the entirety of its length. The engineering drawing shows 4 beams under the wooden boards. I started making them out of strip styrene, I-beams, but soon realized that getting it all to look nice for the full 28 inches of the actual length of this model wasn't going to be feasible. A day or so later I was cleaning up some things around the room when I came across my stash of Micro Engineering rail pieces. I decided to use 4 full lengths of their code 55 rail. This would provide a solid foundation (metal as opposed to styrene), I wouldn't need to build them from scratch, and since it mostly will be hidden, the fact that it is not a true I-beam is not a visual deterrent. This photo shows the four full lengths of code 55 rail installed on top of the painted framework. The rails were painted with Vallejo "German C. Black Brown", before they were glued in place. I used superglue to do that. Metal weights were used to press the rails down while the glue set.

On top of the rails I am installing strip wood boards. But, before I do that, I need to make sure that those boards are heavily weathered and made to look like they have coal dust on them, while still resembling the look of wood. I cut a good number of scale 11-foot pieces of 2"x5" strips of wood. I was concerned that I might not have enough material, so I also added some 2"x3" and 2"x8" boards (in the end I wound up having plenty of material). To stain the wood pieces, I decided to use the Rit dye that I had bought at the grocery store many years ago. I used an empty spices container (center), poured some of the dye in there, and then dumped a good number of pieces of wood in there. I shook it around and let it soak in for a while. The Rit dye seems to be identical to the famous india-ink-and-alcohol mixture that I have used in the past (I was going to use that if the Rit didn't yield acceptable results). After a while I poured out the liquid back into the Rit bottle, and placed the boards on sheets of paper towels and let that dry overnight. Then, I started applying each board one at a time using Aleene's Tacky Glue to attach them to the tops of the rails.

While board-by-board installation is doable, it is time-consuming and tedious. So, for the long open stretches where I could place the full-length boards, I placed them in sections. I did that by placing the boards next to each other on the table, making sure that they were square and aligned, and then placed a piece of blue masking tape across them. I then flipped it over and covered the entire other side with Aleene's glue. Using the tape as a handle, I lowered that block of boards into position and pressed down to seat them. I left the tape on there for an hour or two, and then gently removed it. For the boards that go in between the vertical columns, those I had to hand fit and place one by one.

Here's a view from the front of the layout, showing the long corridor of the walkway completed.

This is a close-up of the boards near a vertical column. The opening through cross beams are just tall enough to allow a 6-foot tall S-scale person to walk through.

Here's a close-up of the under side of this walkway.

The overall view, slightly over-exposed to better show the details. I cut and glued about 360 strips of wood to form this walkway.

After pouring over the handful of prototype photos I have, I have decided to build what I am calling the operator's booth that appears over the front half of the double-bay opening. Photos show gondolas being used to load coal, so this indicates that this booth was there from shortly after the tipple was built (it wasn't there in the original 1900 engineering drawing and photos).

The booth appears white here, but I suspect that is from the bright daytime sunshine shining directly on the building, given the shadow lines of the steel framing. The shadow lines also gives a good idea of how far the building is from those crossbraces.

This is a later photo as most of the cars in the (rest of the) photo are fishbelly hoppers.

I built this booth out of grooved siding sheet styrene that I had on hand. While the building appears to be simple enough, I decided to put a window or a door in each wall. My interpretation of the booth makes it an 8' x 9' building. Since the walkway upon which it sits is only 11' wide at its maximum-width, that means that people have to walk through the building to walk across the entire walkway. This, therefore then, requires two doors. There is a window visible from the track views in the prototype photos, but I have no photos or information that shows what the other side wall looked like. Since I am interpreting this as being an operator's booth, I presume that the exterior window is to be able to see empty cars being pulled or pushed into position under the tipple, and so an opposite window is necessary to be able to view the positions of the chutes. The external window (the second from the left in the photo) I tried to match to the prototype photos as much as possible. For the interior-facing window I had more freedom to choose, so I chose a larger window affording the operator greater visibility. I cut the four walls, making the ones with the doors 8 feet wide and 8' tall. The side walls were 9' wide. I then cut the openings in them after I chose the parts to use.

I love these Rite-way magnetic clamps for this type of construction work. On the interior of the walls I had indicated their purpose and orientation, so that the siding lines would line up across all four walls. The side walls were butted against the front and rear walls (the ones with the doors), so that the overall width remained 8' wide, as that was about the maximum clearance I had to slide this building into the tipple from above.
(external link: Rite-way Clamps)

I then glued the two sub-assemblies together to form the basic building. After the glue cured, I placed the building on a flat sheet of sandpaper and made sure that the top and bottom of the building were even. I noted a slight shadow line under the roof of the building in the prototype photos, so I cut a roof ever so slightly larger than the exterior dimensions of the building. I couldn't go any bigger anyway due to the clearance in the tipple support structure. It was then just a simple matter of gluing the roof to the walls. I decided not to make a dedicated floor as the walkway of the tipple can function as the floor of the building. This photo shows the front door and the exterior-view window.

This view shows the rear door and the interior-view window.

I then spent several evenings painting the entire structure. This step actually wound up being the most time-consuming part, as you spend time waiting for the paint layers to dry. In the prototype photos I see something that resembled an exhaust stack, so I would imagine that the booth operator had a stove in the building to help him stay warm during the cold winter months. I found a pewter metal casting in my parts box and installed it with superglue. To give the building a wood-look and also to make it seem dirty from coal dust, I applied many layers of browns, blacks, and grays. The doors and windows were painted with Vallejo's "German Brown Black". The more I use Vallejo, the more I am really liking this paint. I love the dispenser bottles as it is very easy to get a single drop of paint out of the bottle, which is all that I need sometimes for smaller projects such as this. I painted the interior using a cream color to brighten it up a bit. As my Polly Scale and Floquil paints disappear, I will be replacing them with Vallejo. The S-scale 3D-printed figure by New Zealand Finescale is shown for scale reference (he still has sprue parts attached to the bottom of his feet).
(external link: New Zealand Finescale)

To complete the construction of this booth, I cut and glued (using Aleene's very sparingly) clear acetate to represent glass to both the doors and the windows. I then covered the roof with N-scale fine ballast, which I applied to the roof after covering the roof with a layer of Aleene's tacky glue (regular white glue would probably have run off the edges of the roof). The next day I applied some of the Rit dye that I had used for the walkway to the roof treatment, to give it more of a coal-dust look. The roof looks gray in the photo, but it is more of a grimy black color in person. I have no clue as to how the prototype roof was constructed, so this was just some creative-license. After I let the roof cure overnight, I applied drops of Aleene's tacky glue to the wider spots on the bottom of the building (the door steps and corners, for example), and carefully lowered the building through the top of the tipple into its final position. I wanted to make sure no glue squeezed out of the bottom of the building, so it was applied toward the interior of the building. The prototype photos show it closer to the left vertical frame, but I couldn't justify that as my model's door would have hit the cross beams at that vertical beam. There is no clear shot of what that area looked like in the prototype photos. I am happy with the final result, even though the building isn't a 100%-accurate match. The front of the (future) layout is to the left of this photo, so this building isn't really that close to the viewer. One thing I concluded is that, even though this appears to be a simple building, it still took a full week of available modeling time to put together and complete.

The next detail I noticed was the stairs going from the walkway area to the main building. This is in the bay to the left of the one where the operator's booth was. I have identified them with the two orange lines in the blown-up view of a prototype photo.

I have scratchbuilt a staircase before, and I know that they are a ton of work, much like in real life. I have a kit that builds a staircase, but it wasn't long enough to reach the main building. So, instead I decided to compromise and use a ladder. Years ago I bought this package of S-scale ladders from Rusty Stumps.

I cut one off of the sprue, and cut it into two sections to the length that I needed. I also scratchbuilt the intermediate platform out of wood strips.

I cut two more beams that allow the platform to be mounted to the vertical post on the left, and the crossbrace on the right. I put another beam, vertically, under the other corner to properly support the platform. I could then glue the two ladders to the walkway and the platform to complete this small scene. It only vaguely resembles the prototype one, but, in person, it gets kind of lost in all of the support structure's framework, so it doesn't really stand out, i.e. there is no real need to go all out on this. I am trying to complete this module by the end of 2023, so at some point you have to say "Good enough!" and press on.

Then, moving farther toward the front of the module, two bays over there is a big, bulky contraption in the center of the structure that spans from near the bottom of the main building to somewhat near the top of the hopper cars, if there were any tracks under that one. It is my speculation that this is some sort of storage bin to hold coal for local truck-based deliveries. The trucks drive under this storage bin and coal gets dumped into their beds. This prototype photo is blown up and is the best view that I have of this bin, so, again, I will be approximating its look in my model of it.

I have one other prototype photo that shows this area, but it is very far away. However, it was enough for me to conclude that this storage bin only occupied the center section (as viewed from left to right) of that second bay (as counted from the front of the layout). So, I built this rectangular box out of sheet styrene, and put some square strips in the corners for reinforcement. I decided to make mine tall enough to reach the top of the support structure, for ease of installation later on.

The most challenging part of this small project was to get a good, square section of the "funnel" area that is apparent at the bottom of this storage bin. I marked and cut the four rectangular sections out of sheet styrene, and then marked off two scale feet from either end along the bottom edge, and cut the angled sides. I could then tape them together, position the sub-assembly on the rectangular bin, and carefully glue all parts to each other one at a time.

There appear to be external reinforcements and other things on the storage bin when looking at the photos, so I tried to replicate those with different sizes of strip styrene. The two pieces at the top, reinforced with superglue, are the method by which I will hang this storage bin from the support structure. These will not be visible from normal viewing angles, but are visible if one looks up into the building.

Upside-down to show the reinforcements of the funnel area.

Before installation, I painted this with a Vallejo black. I forgot to paint the two beams at the top, so I wound up having to do those after the bin was glued to the support structure. I only painted the interior of the funnel area, about as much as I could reach with the brush, but left the rest of it unpainted, as the vast majority of the interior is simply not visible.

And here it is installed, my interpretation of the storage bin. A local pickup truck has arrived to accept its load.

Here you can see that it takes up only the center section of this bay.

This is a more representative view from the front of the layout.

One area that concerned me a lot is the back of the support structure. The engineering's diagram shows a ton of motors, gears, pulleys, and bands. That would be a lot of work to model all of that. However, as I looked at prototype photos, some of which were dated to around the 1910s, it became clear to me that this back area was eventually covered with what looks like corrugated sheet material. I have indicated the area with an orange line in the photo. I am speculating that perhaps they did that to reduce the weather elements from hitting the mechanisms, from people accidentally walking into the animated equipment, to reduce the noise pollution to the nearby homes, or, perhaps, a combination of all of these factors.

Either way, this significantly reduced the amount of work I have to put into the model. The siding for this area looks different in the prototype photo from the siding of the main building above it, so I decided to use the material you see in the photograph. I bought a lot of these packages probably ~20 years ago when I was still modeling in N-scale. Since this is in the back of the module, the fact that the corrugations are rather small isn't really going to be noticeable. I certainly wasn't about to cut and shape a bunch of aluminum foil again like I had done for the main building; that took a lot of time.

From various photos, the last two bays in the back before getting to the incline were covered with this materials. I decided to not cut individual sheets, as they would have likely done in the real world, but rather just use the strips as-is. Again, from the front of the module that is really not noticeable. I started at the bottom and worked my way up, overlapping a little bit of the top of the previous row. These were attached using Aleene's tacky glue (superglue does not bond well to aluminum).

The strips at the bottom were neatly folded around the corner and attached to the back of this bay, while the ones at the top were trimmed to length with a razorblade. Since there was, in some areas, no structural support in the back of this very thin aluminum, I was not able to make good contact with the strips below them. At first this annoyed the perfectionist in me, and so I tried to fix that with superglue. That's when I realized that superglue doesn't take. In the end I decided that these sheets must be at least 15 years old by now in a facility that operated 24/7, so some damage and letting go of fasteners will have likely happened, and so I left them alone.

On the other side, it appears that only the very last bay was so decorated, so I cut the full strips in half and then glued them in place in the same manner.

The bottom strips were wrapper around the corner and glued to the spare lengths from the other side. At the top, I trimmed them to length. The right-hand side (in the photo) of the top strips literally has nothing to glue to, so all of this is very, very flimsy. But, no one should ever need to touch these, so that should be OK.

I applied one coat of Vallejo's "Surface Primer" black (part #74.602) to the aluminum, just to give it a closer look to what it might look like. Since these outer surfaces are reachable even when the main building is installed and the incline is finished, I am going to leave it like this for the time-being, and apply additional layers of paint and weathering over time.

This is the other side so painted. The interior side of the aluminum is not painted. You can see the shiny surface in these photos. It is my hope that when the main building is installed, that the overhead lighting will not shine on to these surfaces and so they will be hidden in the dark void.

This last interior detail I am going to add to the tipple support structure are the coal chutes. These are the guides that direct the coal to the appropriate track. The fourth image at the top of this page is about the only one I have that somewhat shows the chutes. The main issue with that, and the engineering drawings shown above it, is that this is the as-built structure at or shortly after the year 1900. The rest of the prototype photos I have show the additional bays that were added a few years later, but none of them show any clear photos of the chutes; they are all part of the dark interior void. So, I have decided to just freelance them to make them look plausible and to get them to fit within the confines of the model that I have already built. I am also only going to build one per track, so five chutes. While not prototypically-accurate, it does convey the message. Also, in the real world the chutes were lowered to just above the cars. However, in my model, these chutes are fixed in place, so I need to leave enough vertical clearance such that engines can still pass under them.

I started by finding a number of larger U-channel styrene strips. To these, I glued one-foot wide strips of styrene to increase the height of their sides.

After fitting one of these to its location, I trimmed it to length using my Byrnes mini table saw, painted it with Vallejo "German Black Brown", and added some fine coal to the bottom end of it.

From some thin music wire, I formed a hanger to hold the bottom end of the chute up. The 90-degree ends are glued to the top of the support structure.

From this side view you can make out the first chute glued into place. The orange line on the left marks where I filled a small groove into the bottom of the chute, so that it can sit in position on top of the support structure's beam while the glue sets. The orange line on the right marks where you can see the hanger that holds the other end up.

This view shows what you can see of that chute from the front of the layout.

The first chute provides coal to Track #2. This photo shows the add-on chute that I made that feeds Track #5. It sort of simulates what is shown in the design drawings. After forming and painting it, I glued it to the bottom of the first chute using Aleene's Tacky glue (I needed one that grabs immediately), and then held it in place with two small strips of blue masking tape. This worked, and the next day I removed the tape without leaving a mark. My justification for this design is that there is a control flap inside the first chute that can be raised or lowered for the operator to control to which track the coal goes.

The third chute is shown here. It feeds Track #1. I determined its length, and then cut and filed its bottom end at a slight angle. I then cut another piece, filed it at both ends at an angle, and then glued it to the main trunk. This was all custom-fitted to the location. I had just finished painting it when I took this photo.

I maneuvered it into position, which was not a trivial task, and then fabricated a music-wire hanger for it on the lower end. When that installment was cured, I then applied Aleene's Tacky glue under the chute at its top position, and a couple of drops of superglue where it touched the metal hanger at the bottom. You can see this third chute from this shot, where I've marked it with an orange line.

Next up is a chute that goes to Track #2. It is hard to see, but I have tagged it with the orange line in this photo. As I add more and more stuff to the interior, it is getting harder and harder to get in there, but I managed. I did scrape the paint on this chute a bit, but that should be easy enough to touch up with a paint brush later on.

And, then, finally the last chute, which goes to Track #3, identified by the orange line. Both of these last two chutes also have a music-wire hanger attached to them, so they aren't going to go anywhere.

I know that the chutes don't match the real world implementation, but I didn't have any real good photos as most of the interior was always a solid black mass. My objective with the open interior of the support structure was just to make it look "busy". I think this photo shows that I have accomplished that. Over the upcoming years, I plan to add figures, weathering, and maybe some other odds-n-ends to super-detail this structure, but the objective for now was to get all the things in there that I knew I wouldn't be able to get in there once the main building is permanently attached to this support structure.